Heating with Natural Gas vs. Electricity

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The two main sources of heat readily available in British Columbia are natural gas and electricity. In rural areas and older homes wood heat is the primary source for warmth, but for many people that’s not an option because of the high retrofitting costs. Plus, there’s always the increased insurance rates.

Comparing natural gas and electricity is useful because you can replace one furnace with another (or put in a dual source furnace) when your old furnace dies.

In terms of reliability, both sources are very good — although gas is probably slightly more reliable. Power outages do take place on occasion but gas outages are extremely rare even when an explosion takes place on one of the the main lines (see picture above). The reason that electricity is slightly less reliable is that it runs above ground, making it vulnerable to extreme weather events on occasion.

Utility bills are so convoluted that you almost need a mathematics degree to do a proper comparison.

BILLING INFORMATION

Here is what my latest gas bill looks like.

gasbill

Notice that there are several components to the bill, and several charges and taxes on top of that — and sometimes on top of the other taxes and charges.

To break it down the rates we have the following segments of your bill:

  1. BASIC CHARGE ($0.4065/day)
  2. DELIVERY CHARGE ($4.296/ GJ)
  3. STORAGE AND TRANSPORT ($0.758/ GJ)
  4. COST OF THE GAS ($1.549/GJ)
  5. MUNICIPAL OPERATING FEE (3.09% of all of the above)
  6. CARBON TAX ($1.7381 per GJ) – Note that this is more than the cost of the gas.
  7. CLEAN ENERGY LEVY (0.40% of all of the above except the CARBON TAX)
  8. GST (5% on everything above except the CLEAN ENERGY LEVY)

And here is my latest BC Hydro bill (representing two months).

hydrobill

The BC Hydro bill is slightly less cryptic to decipher, but we will still have to convert kWh to GJ to make the proper comparison.

The electricity bill breaks down as follows:

  1. BASIC CHARGE ($0.19560/day)
  2. STEP 1: 1,376kWh ($0.08840/kWh)
  3. STEP 2: EVERYTHING CONSUMED ABOVE 1,376 kWh ($0.13260/kWh)
  4. RATE RIDER (5% on all of the above)
  5. CUSTOMER CRISIS FUND CHARGE ($0.00820/day)
  6. GST (5% on all of the above)

COMPARISON

A typical home in the southern interior will use 100 GJ (or 27,778kWh)  of energy to heat for a year. Smaller homes and more efficient furnaces can improve on this number, as can global warming because of warmer winters. Bigger homes or poorly insulated homes will use more.

Assuming that you require 100 GJ of heat for your home for the year, your gas costs will be:

  1. DELIVERY CHARGE = $429.60
  2. STORAGE AND TRANSPORT = $75.80
  3. COST OF THE GAS = $154.90
  4. MUNICIPAL OPERATING FEE = $20.40
  5. CARBON TAX = $173.82
  6. CLEAN ENERGY LEVY = $2.64
  7. GST = $42.73

TOTAL = $899.89

Using traditional baseboard heaters, the same amount of energy would cost you over $4,000/year with BC Hydro.

  1. 27,778 kWh at $0.13260/kWh = $3,683.34
  2. RATE RIDER = $184.17
  3. GST = 193.38

TOTAL = $4,060.88

In both examples above the basic rate, customer crisis charge, and applicable taxes are ignored because because they represent the fixed cost of having an account. These costs are significantly higher for gas ($161.20) than for electricity ($81.85).

Heating with baseboard heaters is very expensive as you can see, which is why the only place in Canada that uses them as the primary heat source is Victoria where winters are very mild, but for the rest of the country it’s not something you would ever want.

Geothermal heating is how electric heat is used in the rest of the country, but then again it’s not very good if the temperature gets down near freezing unless your geothermal heat source is the ground. If you have an air unit outside, you do not want to run it below the point where you achieve 400% efficiency (where the coefficient of performance drops below 4). If you are thinking of installing an outdoor air heat pump, make sure you do it in conjunction with a gas furnace because your bills will be sky high during the cold winter months. The cross-over point is somewhere around 7°C where you would want to switch from electric to gas.

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Posted in Consumer Issues, Economics | 2 Comments

Who Gets The Most Heat Warnings in BC? The Answer Will Surprise You!

terrace

Environment Canada issues a heat warning when the forecast calls for a highs above a certain threshold and lows above another threshold for two consecutive days.

Prior to 2018, there was no such thing as a heat warning in BC, but it’s now a common occurrence in the summer months. You might be thinking that the hot places get more heat warnings than the colder places in the province, but you would be incorrect.

heatwarningsbc

This is because Environment Canada has divided the province into four different zones. Within each zone the hotter places will get heat warnings, but the cooler places will not. Actually, it’s the places with warm nights that make the difference. In other words, if one place gets very hot days, but cool nights, it will never receive a heat warning. But another place with much cooler temperatures in day and warmer temperatures at night will get the odd heat warning.

This is why a place like Pemberton (one of the hottest places in Canada during hot summer days) will never be subject to a heat warning while Victoria will get the odd warning.

Even in Lytton, Canada’s hotspot as it’s called, the temperature can be above 40C for several days in a row, but still be too cold at night to match the “heat warning” criteria.

Give this fact, Lytton did not get a single heat warning in 2016 or 2017. Even in 2018 it was not hot enough when the temperature was well in excess of 40°C because the temperature would drop down to 17°C at night. It was only after the days clouded over and cooled to the 35°C that the nights were warm enough to meet the heat warning threshold.

So even in the hottest of places in the southern interior, places like Lytton, Lillooet, and Ashcroft, they are lucky to get even a single heat warning day in a given year. Other hot spots like Kamloops and even Osoyoos will go years without a heat warning.

By comparison, Fort Nelson in the far north averages 1 per year.

And the grand winner? Terrace (shown in the picture above) in the northeast with more than five heat warning days per year! The only other places in BC that get more than 1 heat warning day per year are on the south coast, namely Malahat on Vancouver Island and West Vancouver where the nights are warm.

Posted in Climate, Weather Warnings | Leave a comment

It’s so Hot in Canada that the Northwest Territories is Under a Heat Warning for the First Time EVER!

BUFFALO

I turned on the radio today to hear the news talking about heat warnings all over western Canada. Now, this was real shock for me because I know for a fact that there has never been a heat warning in the interior of British Columbia or the Northwest Territories. When I went online, I saw the following map.

CURRENTHEATWARNNGS

One year ago we discussed the criteria for triggering heat warnings in Canada, meaning that the above map was something never seen before in Canada. As was noted then, some of the regions in the country had downright silly thresholds. For example, the Northwest territories would not fall under a heat warning unless the temperature hit 40°C (104°F). The all time record for the Territory is 39.4°C (103°F) for comparison (set in July of 1941).

The new requirement sets the threshold at 29°C (so long as the temperature is forecast to stay above 14°C at night). This makes the likelihood of a heat warning issued multiple times per year highly probable.

So if you haven’t figured out yet, the headline is only meant to shock you without providing any context. In other words, I could get a top paying job at Gawker or Buzzfeed. To be clear, the temperatures are hot, but not record breaking (although today’s 35°C/95°F forecast is pretty warm for Fort Liard, NWT). The main point is that the bar has been lowered to allow more heat warnings in the future in Canada. Why am I not surprised!

For Atlantic Canada the thresholds have been lowered too, and in British Columbia and the Yukon, heat warnings are now a possibility for the first time. Just like the NWT, the interior of British Columbia — including the hot, dry south — has never had any heat warnings before because there were no criteria until this year. Don’t ask me why.

The only place in Canada that no longer has heat warnings is Nunavut, which is really no different than the old system where it would need to reach an impossible temperature of 40°C before triggering a heat warning.

The old requirements can be found here. Now compare that to the new requirements summarized below (any areas in white do not have weather forecasts):

HEATWARNINGNEW

 

Posted in Weather Warnings | 1 Comment

British Columbia Hotspots

trailbc.png

I like listening to CBC radio out of Kelowna in the afternoons, and especially appreciate the host informing us where the hottest and coldest places in the province are currently located.

Just for fun, I have crunched the numbers for 2017 using all the 100 or so hourly reporting weather stations in the province to see how often each station was the provincial hot  spot. The numbers shocked me because I did not expect Warfield/Trail to be near the top of the list. I also expected Lillooet and Osoyoos to be closer to the top.

Anyway, here is a list of weather stations that managed to be the hottest place in the province at least once in 2017 (note that several towns have two stations for some reason, one airport station operated by NAV Canada one nearby by Environment Canada):

 

Ashcroft: 48 Squamish: 5 Terrace: 2
Warfield: 40 Victoria (UVic): 5 Victoria (airport): 2
Lytton (RCS station): 36 Abbotsford: 4 Bella Bella: 1
Osoyoos: 23 Burns Bog: 4 Comox: 1
Lillooet: 15 Victoria (Gonzales Hill): 4 Dawson Creek: 1
Kamloops (airport): 14 Agassiz: 3 Dease Lake (airport): 1
Kindakun Rocks: 14 Bonilla Island: 3 Dease Lake: 1
Estevan: 12 Kamloops (auto station): 3 Entrance: 1
Bella Coola: 10 Pemberton: 3 Fort Nelson: 1
Sheringham Point: 10 Port Mellon: 3 Fort Nelson (airport): 1
North Cowichan: 9 Princeton: 3 Kelowna (UBCO): 1
Race Rocks: 9 Sartine: 3 Merritt: 1
Solander Island: 9 Sisters Island: 3 Port Alberni: 1
Hope: 8 Cape St. James: 2 Quesnel: 1
Nelson: 8 Clearwater: 2 Salmon Arm: 1
White Rock: 8 Esquimalt: 2 Sandspit (airport): 1
Pitt Meadows: 7 HoweSound – Pam Rocks: 2 Sparwood: 1
Cumshewa Island: 6 Langara Island: 2 Vancouver (airport): 1
Creston: 5 Point Atkinson: 2 Vancouver(harbour): 1
Lytton (airport): 5 Prince Rupert: 2 Vernon: 1
Nakusp: 5 Puntzi Mountain: 2 West Vancouver: 1
Saturna Island: 5 Sandspit: 2

But here is the real shocker I discovered going a little deeper into the data. Various towns in the southwestern interior argue about who is the hottest place in Canada because they get such hot summers. These are the towns of Osoyoos, Lytton, Lillooet, and Ashcroft, and yet in 2017, Wafield in the Kootenays beat them all at the height of summer. In fact, this West Kootenay town was the provincial hotspot in 19 of July’s 31 days while no other town had more than five. If we only include the hot days in 2017 — say like only days were someone hits 30 degrees Celsius — the list looks like the following:

Warfield: 26
Ashcroft: 18
Lytton: 16
Nelson: 3
Kamloops: 3
Osoyoos: 3
Lillooet: 2
Hope: 2
Princeton: 2
Creston: 2
Nakusp: 2
Squamish: 1
Port Alberni: 1
Kelowna: 1
Pitt Meadows: 1

So Warfield was the hot spot 5 times more often during hot summer days than Lillooet and Osoyoos combined! Who would have thunk it!

The weather report on the radio also likes to list the coldest spot in the province, so for fun, I’ve conducted the same exercise by examining the daily lows in 2017, and the result is as follows:

Burns Lake: 63 Blue River: 7
Fort Nelson (airport): 52 Cranbrook: 6
Dease Lake: 47 Fort Nelson: 6
Tatlayoko Lake: 45 MacKenzie: 4
Yoho National Park: 40 Fort St. John: 3
Clinton: 30 Blackcomb Sliding Centre: 1
Puntzi Mountain: 30 Callaghan Valley: 1
Dease Lake (airport): 20 MacKenzie (airport): 1
Dawson Creek: 16 Prince George: 1
Sparwood: 13 Princeton: 1

One thing that jumps out at me is that Puntzi Mountain, Princeton, Dawson Creek, and Fort Nelson all managed to be the hottest and coldest spots in the province in 2017 at least once.

An important caveat with the cold list above is that it is not reflected by the temperatures given on the CBC in the afternoon since the table above reflects the overnight temperatures. For example, the Chilcotin stations (Tatlayoko Lake and Puntzi Mountain) have the highest diurnal temperature variations (difference between daily lows and highs) in the province by a wide margin such that Tatlayoko Lake is never the coldest place in the province in the afternoon because the temperature always warms up — even in the dead of winter. In fact, the afternoon temperatures in the winter months are warmer on average in Tatlayoko than they are in Osoyoos in many years!

So to better reflect the afternoon temperatures, the following table lists the number times each station had the lowest daily maximum temperature in BC in 2017:

Yoho National Park: 61 Blue River: 4
Fort Nelson  (airport): 46 Fort St. James: 4
Fort St. John: 33 Ootsa Lake: 4
Dease Lake (airport): 32 Puntzi Mountain: 4
Fort Nelson: 31 Clinton: 3
Dease Lake: 29 Grey Islet: 3
Cumshewa Island: 15 MacKenzie (airport): 3
Langara Island: 13 Cranbrook (airport): 2
Bonilla Island: 12 MacKenzie: 2
Sartine: 12 Race Rocks: 2
Lucy Island: 11 Smithers: 2
Blackcomb Sliding Centre: 10 Burns Lake: 1
Kindakun Rocks: 10 Dawson Creek: 1
Callaghan Valley: 9 Golden: 1
Solander Island: 9 Herbert Island: 1
Cape St. James: 8 Princeton: 1
Sheringham Point: 8 Rose Spit: 1
Clinton (airport): 7 Terrace: 1
Sparwood: 6 Williams Lake: 1
Cranbrook (auto station): 5

So based upon last year’s data, we would expect Ashcroft to be listed most often as the hottest spot in BC on CBC and Yoho National Park as the most frequent cold spot. I could be wrong, but I suspect that Warfield’s amazing domination during the summer months of 2017 was due to the smoke in the west (Thompson-Okanagan region) keeping the temperatures down, and not typical for the summer. In either case, it’s definitely one of the country’s hottest spots.

UPDATE: 2017 was indeed an anomaly for Warfield. Looking at the 2016 data, Warfield was the provincial hotspot for a mere 12 days — and 0 days in July! By contrast, Ashcroft was the BC hotspot for 71 days during the year, including 12 days in July.

For hot days over 30 degrees, the 2016 data looks like this:

Ashcroft: 17
Lytton: 14
Kamloops: 6
Osoyoos: 6
Pemberton: 5
Squamish: 4
Warfield: 3
Port Alberni: 2
Terrace: 1
Lillooet: 1
Nelson: 1
Penticton: 1
Kelowna: 1
Fort Nelson: 1
Delta: 1
Agassiz: 1

So the two year total for being the provincial hotspot during days over 30°C is as follows:

Ashcroft: 35
Lytton: 30
Warfield: 29
Kamloops: 9
Osoyoos: 9
Pemberton: 5
Squamish: 5
Port Alberni: 3
Nelson: 4
Lillooet: 3
Nakusp: 2
Kelowna: 2
Princton: 2
Delta: 1
Agassiz: 1
Penticton: 1
Fort Nelson: 1
Pitt Meadows: 1
Terrace: 1

 

 

Posted in Climate, Geography | 1 Comment

Why We Should Expect Massive 1 in 100 Year Flood Events Almost Every Year in Canada

coldstreamwaterfloodLet’s assume for argument’s sake that there is no global warming or climate change. Clearly the planet is warming and changing, but for mathematical purposes, we will show that even without any climate change, extreme flood events in Canada are very common.

Now, the government has 1,900 river and lake monitoring stations in Canada. In addition, many rivers that were formerly monitored are no longer measured, and still many others have never had river volumes recorded.

We know that bodies of water that are not monitored still flood. Yes, it really floods in the forest if no one is there to see it. And of course, these floods can have devastating impacts on the people living there. The Nazko river west of Quesnel, BC experienced an extreme flood event this year, but the government no longer records river levels, so they estimated the level based upon the West Road River downstream. This estimate was used to generate the followed graph during the height of the 2018 freshet.

NazkoRiver2

Nazkoflood2

There are thousands of lakes and rivers in Canada that have the potential to flood, but they don’t all flood at the same time. Even within the same province, you can have record high flood levels in one area and record low peak river levels in another.

So, assuming no climate change and a mere 3,000 rivers and lakes that could cause property damage in Canada, the statistical average will expect 30 rivers each year to experience a 1 in 100 flood event. Three rivers should experience a 1 in 1000 year flood on an annual basis.

I suspect that the climate is getting wetter, which increases the flood risk, but it’s also very likely that almost all of the perceived increase in flooding is the result of the media not providing enough context. Don’t get me wrong, they do provide good coverage including the fact that individual years cannot be linked to climate change, but with the way the human brain works we don’t easily understand why we can’t link specific flood events to climate change.

If we can understand how common extreme flood events are based upon simple statistics, we can also understand that climate change can only be discussed with much deeper analysis than invoking the spotlight fallacy.

 

 

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Islam and Feminism

sarsour

The West has long been a hotbed of rampant sexism, and yet — sadly — it’s getting worse the harder we try to stop it. The gender wage gap is increasing, the president of the USA openly supports abuse of women, and feminists are demonized like never before.

There is really only one way to reverse this disturbing trend toward even more male domination in the world, and that is for the West to embrace Islam wholesale. This might sound like a preposterous idea, but that’s only because you’re feeling uncomfortable about abandoning your sexist thoughts and desires. Many religions and philosophies support women’s rights in theory, but in practice, they are extremely sexist. Islam is the only religion that actually stops the discriminating against women, not just in theory, but in practice.

Here are the top three proofs:

1) All the religions of the world do not have gender balance EXCEPT Islam! Islam is the ONLY religion in the world where men and women are equal in number! Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism are dominated by women while the unaffiliated/non-religious camp is dominated by men. That is not gender balance in either case. Only Islam balances the genders perfectly.

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2) Muslim countries elevate women much more than Christian and secular countries in the workplace. For example, the more Islamic a nation is, the more equity between men and women in STEM.

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3) Within the non-Islamic religions of the world (Christianity, Judaism, etc.), increased religiosity correlates strongly with more sexism. Christians and Jews attending Church/Synagogue regularly are more likely to be sexist bigots like Conservative leader Andrew Sheer, while Christians and Jews who hardly ever attend religious services like Justin Trudeau become the face of feminism across the globe.

Islam is the opposite. The practicing Muslims devout enough to don the hijab are such great champions of feminism that they become the face of feminism around the world. That’s why Linda Sarsour ended up being the keynote speaker at the Women’s March in Washington. Meanwhile, the liberal and more secular Muslims like Tarek Fatah, Zuhdi Jasser, and Asra Nomani open support sexist Republican candidates like Donald Trump, and write Islamophobic and sexist articles condemning the champions of women’s rights — such as Linda Sarsour and Hillary Clinton.

Now, maybe you’re not religious at all, so you’re thinking that you are not sexist, but that’s only because you are comparing yourself to Christianity from which most non-religious types come. Being less sexist is not the same as being free of sexism. Only Islam can do that for you. If leaving Islam to become irreligious makes you sexist, embracing Islam will remove your sexism, logically speaking.

Take, for example, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s typical of an ex-Muslim. She was a devout follower of Allah when she was a progressive Labour MP in the Netherlands. Then she abandoned her religion to become an atheist, moved the USA, and immediately got a job working the conservative (and thus sexist) American Enterprise Institute. Keep in mind that this think tank includes the likes of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dinesh D’Sousa. That’s right, when Muslims who support progressive and feminist political parties lose their religion they take a hard right into bigotry. So much so that the same organizations who monitor the actions of the KKK end up putting the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali on a similar hate watch list.

So the choice is yours to make today. You can either continue life as a sexist bigot, or you can embrace the lofty goals of feminism by joining the world’s fastest growing religion. Do not delay because women everywhere are depending on you to be the change they need.

Allahu Akbar!

 

Posted in Feminism, Religion, Satire/Intersectional Feminism | 2 Comments

An Extreme Temperature Weekend in Western North America

Redstone

There were some absolutely amazing diurnal temperature variations over the weekend. Puntzi Mountain, BC (elevation: 910 m) was -8°C Friday afternoon, and then -36.5°C Saturday morning — a 28.5°C drop. Keep in mind that the LARGEST overnight temperature drop at Puntzi Mountain last year was 27.5°C!

The temperature rose to -6.7°C Saturday afternoon — a 29.8°C rise. Keep in mind that the LARGEST daily temperature rise at Puntzi Mountain last year was 28.9°C!

Then the temperature dropped 26.9 degrees to -33.6°C Sunday morning before rising 27.7 degrees to -5.9°C. Then, it dropped an astounding 30.7°C (55°F) overnight to -36.6°C! Keep in mind that the highest overnight temperature drop in BC in 2017 was Merritt when the temperature dropped 29.6°C in August.

Alberta saw even more extreme temperature swings.

Here are the top three:

  1. Hendrickson Creek (1,448 m): a 24 hour change of 38.7°C (-35.9°C in the morning and 2.8°C in the afternoon).
  2. Sundre (1,114 m) : a 24 hour change of 36.9°C (-39.2°C in the morning and -2.3°C in the afternoon).
  3. Claresholm (1,009 m) : a 24 hour change of 35.9°C (-34.1°C in the morning and 1.8°C in the afternoon).

These strong temperature swings were the result of very strong temperature inversions in the morning hours, and then enough sunshine and wind in the afternoon to break the inversion.

Further north, the sunlight is not intense enough to reverse the inversion by the afternoon this time of year, so inversions tend to be more extreme. Around Dawson, Yukon and Fairbanks, Alaska, the inversion was so strong over the weekend that surface was 60°F (33°C) colder than it was at 2900′ (900 m) above the ground. For Fairbanks, that’s -19°F (-28°C) at the surface and +41°F (5°C) at 2900′ above the ground.

An inversion this extreme is uncommon, but still not a record. That record was set in McGrath, Alaska on Jan 13, 1966 when the surface was 40°C (72°F)  colder than at 855 mb (1180 m above the ground). The surface temperature was -40.7°C (-41.3°F) versus -0.7°C (+30.7°F) at 855 mb.

 

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